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Human Genetics and Languages

  1. David Comas,
  2. Elena Bosch,
  3. Francesc Calafell

Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020810



How to Cite

Comas, D., Bosch, E. and Calafell, F. 2008. Human Genetics and Languages. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2008


The similarities between the mode of inheritance and evolution of genes and languages have fostered interest in the joint analysis of both disciplines. The correlation between genes and languages was firstly demonstrated by Cavalli-Sforza and collaborators comparing a tree build from ‘classical’ genetic markers to a linguistic tree of languages. Several criticisms to this correlation have been raised and a large number of exceptions have been described. It has been shown that the most plausible factor that influences in the correlation of genes and languages is geography. However, the information provided by genetics and linguistics, as well as the one provided by other disciplines, will allow us to reconstruct the history of humankind.


  • genetic diversity;
  • linguistic trees;
  • genetic trees;
  • language families;
  • population genetics